Christmas Away From Home
November 29, 2006
Christmas 1960 found me in Germany, away from home and family. I was a young soldier, 18 years old. I remember well the feeling of being homesick. Back home there was excitement in the family, as it was every year at that time. The Christmas tree was decorated, and the lights were illuminating the ornaments hung there by my mother and brothers and little sister. The tree itself would have been brought in by my Dad and erected in a strategic place where it could be admired by everyone who entered the room.
The problem was, I was not there, but sitting on a bunk on the fourth floor of an Army barracks with a bunch of guys I had only recently met. There were no decorations, there was no Christmas tree. Two or three of my buddies came in with a tree they had cut down somewhere outside the barracks. The rest of us watched intently as they erected the scraggly tree in one corner of the room which served as both our living room and our sleeping quarters. When they were finished, they sat down on their bunks. We all sat there quietly, each of us reflecting on Christmas back home.
I could take it no longer. That tree was bare and needed some type of decoration. Taking two Christmas cards I had received through the mail, one from home, and the other from my sweetheart I would marry one day, I quietly walked over to the tree. I hung the two Christmas cards from one of its branches.
As soon as I sat down another soldier got up, walked over to the tree, and placed his Christmas cards on another branch. Each soldier in the room took his turn at placing Christmas cards on the tree, and then he would return to his bunk and watch as the others followed suit. When the last card was placed on the once barren and scraggly tree it no longer was ugly. It was covered with our Christmas cards from home. During all the time this was taking place, not a word had been spoken.
Thomas, this was an absolutely beautiful moment for you to share with us.
Made me cry, was it the story or the memory of my son and his first Christmas in Iraq? I don't know but it definately left it's mark.
Thank you for sharing it my friend.
Tom Having read my Christmas stuff, you know what this celebration means to me. Thank you for adding another ornament on my memory tree. It's beautiful, moving and spirit-filled. You have satouched me again. God Bless you!
What a beautiful story, Thomas. It just takes that one step of bravery to incite others to follow. That was no doubt the poorest Christmas you ever had; yet the richest one because you selflessly sacrificed your precious cards and shared them with others...Loved the story. Sorry I have been negligent in commenting. There have been so many things to keep me from the computer. We've had extra people to look after for several months. Now things will begin to get back to normal...I hope...Blessings to you and Mary at this season...Helen